There will be no tunnel under the entire of the Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty, it has been confirmed.
The HS2 select committee published its final report on Monday, February 22, and reiterated its position from July last year that the tunnel for which petitioners had been asking would not happen.
It instead confirmed that the existing plans for a shorter tunnel would be extended to South Heath, and that Mantles Wood near Amersham would be afforded extra protection.
The HS2 select committee is made up of MPs from different parties, who visited the areas affected by the first phase of the controversial rail project between London and the Midlands over the past 18 months.
The section of the report on the Chilterns tunnel says: “In weighing the case for a tunnel throughout the entire AONB, we considered the extend of mitigation of the promoter’s [HS2 Ltd] scheme in the AONB compared with that offered by the tunnel options, the feasibility of the tunnel options, the traffic effects of each scheme and the cost.
“We had in mind that substantially greater relative benefits might derive from a shorter tunnel extension option.
“We announced on July 22, 2015 that we had not been convinced by the arguments for a tunnel under the entire AONB as presented by the bodies which might have been expected to present the most persuasive case.
“We remained of that view having heard other petitioners in the autumn of 2015.”
The report also confirmed that there would be no tunnel under the Colne Valley in Denham, for which petitioners had pressed, and that existing plans for a viaduct would go ahead instead.
The committee stated that: “The Colne Valley viaduct will be the most significant visible engineering feature of the HS2 phase one route.
“It will have international significance and its design should reflect that.
“Having argued against a viaduct, local people deserve that its design be respectful and respectable. We hope the promoter will be open to that challenge.”
The committee also confirmed that while plans to move the Heathrow Express depot to Langley would have to go ahead, HS2 Ltd should contribute £1.4m to the cost of a relief road in order to ease traffic problems which will be created in the Iver area; and that Bangors Road South in Iver should be avoided as much as possible by HS2 construction traffic.
Following the publication, anti HS2 campaigners criticised the select committee for not doing enough.
A statement from Wendover HS2 following the final presentation to the committee, which took place shortly before the publication of the report, said: “We are deeply disappointed but, regrettably, not surprised by the House of Commons HS2 Select Committee which has so far failed to recommend extending the Chiltern Tunnel throughout the whole length of the AONB to the north of Wendover.
“The committee has failed to consider the evidence put to it, see through the shocking HS2 cost estimating process and failed to follow through its own recommendations made in July last year.”
Stop HS2 chairman Joe Rukin tweeted: “Blink and you’d miss it. HS2 committee sum up 19 months work by saying they’ve made five changes.”
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